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Contact: Simon Trevaskis Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Apologies for Absence
To receive any apologies for absence from any members of the Committee.
Apologies received from Councillor Robert Fitzpatrick who was substituted by Councillor Mary Croos.
Apologies received from Co-optee Members Elaine Jones and Paul O’Donnell.
Apologies for lateness received from Councillors Bernadette Khan and Alisa Flemming.
Minutes of the Previous Meeting
To approve the minutes of the meetings held on 18 January and 9 March 2022 as an accurate record.
(Draft minutes to follow)
There were no minutes circulated for consideration at this meeting.
Disclosures of Interest
Members and co-opted Members of the Council are reminded that, in accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct and the statutory provisions of the Localism Act, they are required to consider in advance of each meeting whether they have a disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI), another registrable interest (ORI) or a non-registrable interest (NRI) in relation to any matter on the agenda. If advice is needed, Members should contact the Monitoring Officer in good time before the meeting.
If any Member or co-opted Member of the Council identifies a DPI or ORI which they have not already registered on the Council’s register of interests or which requires updating, they should complete the disclosure form which can be obtained from Democratic Services at any time, copies of which will be available at the meeting for return to the Monitoring Officer.
Members and co-opted Members are required to disclose any DPIs and ORIs at the meeting.
· Where the matter relates to a DPI they may not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter and must not stay in the meeting unless granted a dispensation.
· Where the matter relates to an ORI they may not vote on the matter unless granted a dispensation.
· Where a Member or co-opted Member has an NRI which directly relates to their financial interest or wellbeing, or that of a relative or close associate, they must disclose the interest at the meeting, may not take part in any discussion or vote on the matter and must not stay in the meeting unless granted a dispensation. Where a matter affects the NRI of a Member or co-opted Member, section 9 of Appendix B of the Code of Conduct sets out the test which must be applied by the Member to decide whether disclosure is required.
The Chair will invite Members to make their disclosure orally at the commencement of Agenda item 3, to be recorded in the minutes.
There was none.
Urgent Business (if any)
To receive notice of any business not on the agenda which in the opinion of the Chair, by reason of special circumstances, be considered as a matter of urgency.
There was none.
The Children & Young People Sub-Committee is asked to note the progress made in delivering the outstanding actions on the action list.
The Chair addressed that the majority of items on the action list had been completed, though there were a few outstanding items. There were new items such as the health visiting performance that was suggested for the new Sub-Committee in the new municipal year, to review.
Overall the action list was in a better position.
Early Help, Children Social Care & Education Dashboards PDF 93 KB
The Children & Young People Sub-Committee is asked to review the performance dashboards provided for Early Help, Children Social Care and Education and consider whether there are any areas of concern that may need to be scheduled for further scrutiny at a future meeting.
The Scrutiny Children & Young People Sub-Committee considered the January 2022 Children Social Care & Education Dashboard, which provided an overview of the performance within the service.
It was noted by the Sub-Committee that the staffing levels were generally good in the green zone, though timescales were still in red and yellow zones and required rapid improvement.
Home Education in Croydon PDF 320 KB
The Children & Young People Sub-Committee is asked to note the content of the report and consider whether there are any areas of concern that need further investigation as part of the work programme for 2022-23.
(Report to follow)
The Scrutiny Children & Young People Sub-Committee considered the Home Education in Croydon report, which had previously been highlighted by the Sub-Committee as a potential area of concern in need of further scrutiny.
The Sub-Committee received an overview from the Director of Education, Shelley Davies, who highlighted the following:
- There were currently 635 children registered as elected education with reasons as provided within the report.
- The covid-19 pandemic had impacted family’s decision in education and sending children to school, though parents are legally within their rights to elected education at home.
- Safeguarding and staffing had also been addressed within the report.
In response to queries raised by the Sub-Committee, the Director of Education, clarified the following:
- In relation to the safeguarding of children that were home schooled, there were no inherent safeguarding risks for families planning to home educate their child, though if a school was to identify that a decision for home education was not appropriate for a specific individual, this would be followed up on a case-by-case basis in particular where there were safeguarding issues. There was also a safeguarding process in getting the child back to school which included notifying Children Missing Education, and Children’s Services [if significant concerns were identified]. The Elected Home Education Team also worked closely with the safeguarding officer, where children would be visited every 6 months, or regularly if known to Children’s Services.
- In relation to data and the 635 children registered for Elected Home Education, it was unknown of the breakdown of children in primary and secondary schools, though it was shared that anecdotally parent’s decision to home school their child may often relate to a transition from primary school to secondary school, GCSE preparations or other factors. Additionally, elected home education may not be the right choice for families who may very well return their child back to school.
- In relation to the challenge of schools encouraging families to home educate their children, the service reviewed on the number of situations this had happened - an example which resulted in advice given to families to avoid exclusion. The service had addressed schools and families who needed to be supported in decision making instead of having been encouraged change that was not required for their children. It was important that education was not encouraged to be channelled at home other than what was right for the family.
- In relation to the high turnover of children moving from one local authority to another and whether there was a tracking process in place, the service acknowledged their liaison with the admission authorities in the neighbouring boroughs to ensure safeguarding is maintained. This meant that a child would remain enrolled at a school in one local authority until acknowledgement was verified by another local authority admission team. Where a child was not attending school or enrolled in another school this would alert that a child was missing from education and with safeguarding protocols in place the specialised teams ... view the full minutes text for item 22/22
Croydon Safeguarding Children Partnership PDF 556 KB
This item is an opportunity for the Sub-Committee to question the Chair of the Croydon Safeguarding Children Partnership, with a view to seeking reassurance that the partnership is working effectively together to protect children and young people in the borough.
(Report to follow)
The Scrutiny Children & Young People Sub-Committee considered the Croydon Safeguarding Children Partnership report – namely the Child Safeguarding Practice Review, which provided an overview of partnerships working effectively together to protect children and young people in the borough in particular identified lessons about working with vulnerable young and first-time mothers (and separated fathers) and the challenges of engagement in Universal and Early Help Services.
The Chair highlighted the sensitivity and seriousness of the case which was brought before the Sub-Committee and addressed that the focus of the report was the effectiveness of the partnership, and emphasised on three areas:
- The investigation: How can we do better; the things that happened and the actual event;
- The process of the way the safeguarding partnerships had evaluated what had happened and identified lessons learned; and
- What changed as a result – i.e., the multiagency action plan
Prior to the meeting the Sub-Committee received a summary of safeguarding practice review process (formally known as safeguarding case reviews) which highlighted the grounds the local authority was to take following a serious incident that included notifying the national panel.
The Head of Service for Children Looked After and Care Experienced, Shaun Hanks, highlighted that a rapid review, which was attended by all agencies together learnt immediate lessons, and as a result, more in-depth review was required which was the report presented to Sub-Committee.
Lessons learned had addressed the communication between the multi-agency partners particularly within the front door services which was now happening more frequently (on a monthly basis).
There was also an Independent Management Report that sought immediate practice of an agency and would feed into the bigger Safeguarding Practice Review.
The Detective Superintendent for Public Protection for the Metropolitan Police, Fiona Martin, addressed the Sub-Committee and highlighted their review on their system, the quantity of incoming referrals, how accidental and non-accidental injuries were undertaken, and information sharing.
Further reflection on the learning within the Police included working with the three boroughs (Croydon, Sutton and Lambeth) in understanding thresholds in strategy meetings and increasing the essential meetings to address strategies in safeguarding cases, working together with other agencies, and ensuring learning would be shared.
The Chief Nurse for Croydon CCG and Croydon Health Services, Elaine Clancy, addressed the Sub-Committee and highlighted that the health team had a governance plan which they used to educate, reinforce, increase awareness and other individual learning, in practice and in communication.
Following comments from Children’s Services, Police and Health, the Sub-Committee shared their concern and sadness to the details read within the report. A discussion of the report followed with queries raised by the Sub-Committee, and questions were answered as followed:
- In the question relating to the report highlighting that the father of the child was only heard during the review, what opportunities were agencies seeking in the engagement of parents, particularly fathers? The Head of Service for Children Looked After and Care Experienced shared that following the independent management review training sessions had ... view the full minutes text for item 23/22
Cabinet Member for Children, Young People & Learning PDF 839 KB
The Children & Young People Sub-Committee will be provided with a presentation from the Cabinet Member for Children, Young People & Learning, Councillor Alisa Flemming, on the services within her portfolio.
This will be followed by an opportunity for the Sub-Committee to ask questions on the information provided.
The Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Learning introduced the item and outlined the details in the presentation.
Following the presentation, Members had the opportunity to ask questions.
A Member had asked a question in relation to historic pressures on Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) and the concerns on the possible arrival of Ukrainian children and others bringing more pressures in this area. The Cabinet Member responded that Croydon had a higher proportion of care experience leavers than any other London boroughs, and the impact of the current situation in Ukraine was in focus, where the Council’s responsibility was to be a borough of sanctuary and support children and families and focus on balance and fair funding. The role of the Council was to ensure that children and young people had the opportunity to access emotional support and education, and support residents in this too. The Corporate Director for Children, Young People and Education added that though support given to UASC was good, with lessons learned, those residents who would open their home would also require support in supporting USAC families, and this included a lot of funding.
A Member had asked a question in relation to the Council’s finances as Children’s Services had the largest budget spend and how officers were held to account for delivering current and future budget. The Cabinet Member responded that there were various ways the budget was reviewed, which included regular meetings with the Director of Social Care, Corporate Director for Children and Young People, Cabinet meetings, the Assurance Panel, and Children’s Commissioning, where a line of sight and discussions of recruitment, retention, reviewing pressures and forecasting, spot purchasing and a sustainable model of delivering services were regularly reviewed. Additionally, meeting with social workers and EMPIRE (who have a standing invitation to the Corporate Parenting Panels) the Cabinet Member would listen and understand the impact of decisions and changes made; the front door and Early Help services were also recognised as working closely with partners ensured appropriate measures were taken.
A Member had a question in relation to the task and finishing group and the highest risk areas which may affect the budget that could be reviewed by the new Sub-Committee in the new municipal year. The Cabinet Member responded that the issues of county lines, exclusion rates, serious youth violence, and adultification were amongst issues to be addressed, as well as the impact of the covid-19 pandemic affecting mental harm and trauma, sexual exploitation, the impact of social media relating to bullying and safe usage and supporting traveller families in accessing education. The Corporate Director for Children, Young People and Education added that the post pandemic hidden harm was an area where there was a rise in demand with significant pressures has yet to come.
A Member had asked a question in relation to the disproportional impact of black families with poverty and exclusion of all forms and the impact of covid-19 pandemic which shown a light of widened inequalities. The ... view the full minutes text for item 24/22
What Difference has this Meeting made to Croydon's Children
This item is an opportunity for the Children & Young People Sub-Committee, at the conclusion of the meeting, to review the difference made to Croydon’s children from the meeting.
The Sub-Committee reflected over the last four years highlighting the leadership of the Chair and Vice-Chair in their roles to sustain scrutiny in Children, Young People and Learning following the Ofsted report in 2018 – which helped monitor the performances in Children’s Services.
The Sub-Committee reflected on the covid-19, budgets, and serious case reviews where they challenged services and officers in account for improved services for the borough.
The Sub-Committee highlighted the difficulties experienced throughout the years which helped shaped genuine engagement.
The Sub-Committee had been purposeful to hear from a diverse group and the challenges had been very good.
The Sub-Committee welcomed hearing the voice of young children was great through visits and to foresee future engagement in this area.
The Sub-Committee welcomed new topics for the new Sub-Committee to review.